[This is the same review as that of the book alone.]
Iza Trapani’s illustrations create a gentle, benign atmosphere especially suitable for children. The first illustrated page shows the little spider on a wet leaf, smiling and perhaps waving. It foreshadows not only the final stages of her struggle, but her indomitable attitude.
Of particular note is Trapani’s use of light, which even gives indoor images a sense of sunlight. In the main frontispiece, the coming rainstorm looms over the country home (kids might enjoy penciling the itsy bitsy spider into the scene). But we see that the storm is one where the clouds are very local; sunlight slips in, brightening the very things that were so wetted by the rain. It is an irresistible metaphor for the human struggle for happiness, and so, Trapani rhymes, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider / Gave it one more try.”
The Itsy Bitsy Spider is more subtle than The Little Engine That Could, and more imaginative. It is all the more believable and rewarding since it involves a living creature, The final image, with the successful little spider in sunglasses, can’t be missed.
The rhythm in Trapani’s rhymes is best found by actually singing, rather than saying, the verses. To this end, Trapani provides all the verses and the music notes on the final page (we also discover spidey is a pianist). Trapani has created a family treat.